Figuring out what's a trend vs. a subtrend on Twitter isn't easy. Especially in a week like this one. Take the Grammys, for instance. No surprise that the show tops our Top 10 Trending Topics on Twitter chart -- which is produced, as always, with our editorial partner What the Trend. But two pop stars who appeared on the show -- Lady Gaga and Justin Bieber -- had lots going on this week besides, respectively, arriving on the Grammy stage in a giant egg and engaging in a weird, sweaty little pas de deux with Usher. Turns out that, once the team at WTT consolidated tweets that were tied to their Grammy appearances into the Grammys master trend, Bieber (mostly because of his "Never Say Never" concert-doc, now in a movie theater near you whose floors are slick with the tears of screaming 11-year-old girls) and Gaga (who apparently released some sort of Madonna Pride anthem recently) were still so huge on Twitter this week that they each individually landed in our Top 10 in addition to contributing to the Grammys' dominance.
There. That's the last time I'm mentioning Lady Bieber or Justin Gaga (this week).
But let's return to the Grammys for a moment. Each week, throughout the week, my colleague Liz Pullen, trend analyst at What the Trend, and I trade thoughts by email in preparation for this chart. Her big take-away this week is just how ridiculously dependent Twitter has become on televised awards show to feed its maw. (As I've written in this space before, TV owes a massive debt of gratitude to Twitter for getting people excited about watching awards shows live -- as opposed to on DVRs -- again. See my colleague Andrew Hampp's report on the Grammys ratings triumph this week.)
"This week alone," Pullen notes, "we had the Grammy Awards, the BAFTAs, the Brits, the Goyas and the San Remo Festival (Eurovision Song Contest) trending. I thought awards shows were dead years ago but Twitter has really revived them. While in 2008-09 celebrities seemed to trend quite a lot just because they were active on Twitter, now unless they are going through some huge transition -- like marriage, divorce, pregnancy or getting cast in a big role -- many only seem to hit the Trending Topics based on their appearance on awards shows."
Pullen's list of other shows that loom large on Twitter throughout the year includes: "The VH1 Hip Hop Awards, the ESPYs, the Soul Train Awards, the Image Awards, the People's Choice Awards, the Country Music Awards, the American Music Awards, the Independent Spirit Awards, the Kids' Choice Awards, the Teen Choice Awards, plus all of the international award shows like the MTV Europe Music Awards. Even the Westminster Dog Show trends. It doesn't matter whether the awards show is on a major broadcast channel or a cable channel; if it is live and televised, it will trend on Twitter."
Personally, I'd like to see the Shorty Awards ("honoring the best people and organizations on Twitter and social media") -- which are coming up again on Mar. 28 -- simulcast on all broadcast and cable channels. Twitter's servers would catch fire, Facebook would crash, the Internet would melt down ... and we could all get some much needed rest.
How is this chart made? See Notes, below.
|Trend||Peak Position This Week||Points||Crowdsourced Description|
|1||Grammy Awards (TV Show)||1||10,973||Tweets about the 53rd Annual Grammy Awards|
|2||Valentine's Day||1||10,824||Tweets about Valentine's Day|
|3||What's Sexy/Not Sexy||1||9,669||People are tweeting what do they consider to be a really sexy thing or person -- or not.
Subtrends include: #verysexy, #notsexy, #thatssexy
|4||Justin Bieber||1||6,890||Tweets about pop star Justin Bieber|
|5||Lady Gaga||1||5,114||Tweets about pop star Lady Gaga|
|6||Britney Spears||4||4,952||Tweets about pop star Britney Spears, particularly in regard to the release of the music video for her new single "Hold It Against Me."|
|7||#YouWillNeverCatchMe||1||4,188||People are sharing reasons why fellow users and real-life friends will never be able to catch them.|
|8||European Soccer/Football||1||3,270||Tweets about various teams, players and matches|
|9||Egypt||4||2,693||Tweets related to the aftermath of the resignation of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak|
|10||Maulid Nabi||2||2,307||Tweets related to the observance of the birthday of the prophet Muhammad|
1. WTT tracks the appearance of topics on the Twitter Trending Topics list and each week ranks the subjects with the most cumulative staying power. Explanations of trends are solicited from WTT users, Wikipedia-style; a community-voting system is designed to highlight the best explanations while burying lame or prank explanations.
2. For the purposes of this chart, we collect and process data until 12 midnight EST on Thursday night before each Friday's publication.
3. Ad Age works with WTT to consolidate multiple threads of chatter into one position on the chart when it's clear related Twitter conversations are basically all about the same topic, even if they use different keywords.
4. In WTT's proprietary trend-tracking system, points are awarded for both duration and rank in the top 10 trending topics on Twitter. The longer the duration, and the higher the overall rank, the more points are awarded. Measurements are taken in five-minute increments.
5. The crowdsourced trend explanations above are quoted as they appear on WTT, and therefore may have stylistic and grammatical quirks that don't adhere to normal Ad Age editorial standards.
For more information about What the Trend, visit the WTT FAQ. And check out WTT's Week in Review, compiled by its in-house editors and covering an expanded general list of Top 20 trends (including hashtag trends) here.
Simon Dumenco is the "Media Guy" media columnist for Advertising Age. You can follow him on Twitter @simondumenco.
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